Sports

Riddell's Speedflex football helmet flexes to absorb the hits

Riddell's Speedflex football h...
The Riddell Speedflex, with its flexible hinged panel visible at the top
The Riddell Speedflex, with its flexible hinged panel visible at the top
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The Riddell Speedflex, with its flexible hinged panel visible at the top
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The Riddell Speedflex, with its flexible hinged panel visible at the top
The SpeedFlex can also be equipped with Riddell's InSite Impact Response System
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The SpeedFlex can also be equipped with Riddell's InSite Impact Response System
Other features include a ratchet-style chinstrap attachment system (as opposed to the usual less-secure buckles or snaps), extensions on the sides to protect the mandible from side impacts, and five liner pads that are inflated once the helmet is put on, to ensure a snug fit
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Other features include a ratchet-style chinstrap attachment system (as opposed to the usual less-secure buckles or snaps), extensions on the sides to protect the mandible from side impacts, and five liner pads that are inflated once the helmet is put on, to ensure a snug fit

Although we may admire older cars' ability to "hold together" in a collision, it's now generally accepted that it's safer for vehicles to feature impact-absorbing crumple zones. With that in mind, shouldn't football helmets also be safer if they're able to give a little when whacked? That's what Riddell's new SpeedFlex helmet does ... along with a few other interesting things.

Just to be clear, the SpeedFlex doesn't actually crumple under pressure. It does, however, have a built-in hinged rubber-padded panel located on the front near the top. In head-on collisions with other players (or the ground), this panel gives by up to a quarter of an inch (6 mm), helping to absorb the impact.

Additionally, the stainless steel face mask takes up some of the force via its flexible design, plus it attaches to the helmet at a total of four points on either side of the face, instead of at a single point above it. This arrangement allows the impact force to be more evenly distributed throughout the helmet, instead of being concentrated near the player's forehead.

The mask can be quickly removed and reinstalled as needed, simply by pressing down on its four fasteners.

Other features include a ratchet-style chinstrap attachment system (as opposed to the usual less-secure buckles or snaps), extensions on the sides to protect the mandible from side impacts, and five liner pads that are inflated once the helmet is put on, to ensure a snug fit
Other features include a ratchet-style chinstrap attachment system (as opposed to the usual less-secure buckles or snaps), extensions on the sides to protect the mandible from side impacts, and five liner pads that are inflated once the helmet is put on, to ensure a snug fit

The SpeedFlex can also be equipped with Riddell's InSite Impact Response System. This incorporates sensors located in the helmet's lining, that detect significant impacts to the wearer's head. When these occur, the system wirelessly notifies sideline staff, so they can call the player in to check them over.

Other features include a ratchet-style chinstrap attachment system (as opposed to the usual less-secure buckles or snaps), extensions on the sides to protect the mandible from side impacts, and five liner pads that are inflated once the helmet is put on, to ensure a snug fit.

Riddell's SpeedFlex helmet is widely available as of this month, and is reportedly already in use by some NFL and collegiate players. There's more information in the following video.

Source: Riddell via Popular Science

Riddell SpeedFlex Helmet Technologies

5 comments
EddieG
"Although we may admire older cars' ability to "hold together" in a collision, it's now generally accepted that it's safer for vehicles to feature impact-absorbing crumple zones." Ben, I hate seeing half-truths in one of my favorite mags. A 4K pound car "holds together" better because of its size. A 2K pound car compensates for its diminished size with "crumple zones." Force = Velocity x Mass. It is marketing, not science, that convinces us "modern" cars are safer.
Chevypower
Eddie, not quite. The reason why new cars are safer than the old ones, is not because of the size or mass, it is because the cabins are less penatrable, and the crumple zones reduce the g-forces on the occupant. A heavier car doesn't hold together becsause of its size, it might be structurally weaker (or the same, or stronger), but the extra mass will increase inertia, which means the lighter car will change its velocity, direction, and acceleration much more dramatically, resulting in higher g-forces. The perfect car, would be a big heavy car with huge crumple zones and an inpenatrable cabin.
Michael Wilson
I'll just leave this here.... www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtxd27jlZ_g For those who choose not to click, 50 years of crash safety. A 1959 chevy belair vs a 2009 chevy malibu. The 1950's era car does not fare so well, nor do its passengers. Things like high strength, high tensile steel, and crumple zones make a huge difference in crash safety. I"m glad these same techniques are going into the design of football helmets. Its a real shame because the NFL has been in near complete denial about the last injuries its players incur which follow them the rest of their life.
REHalliburton
The music in the video sounds like the procession leading a convict to the gallows, or a horror movie soundtrack. Distracts from the tour of the helmet's features.
GIGMD
There is a recent invention by Matt Minson, MD that connects the helmet and shoulder pads. THAT will distribute impact forces and likely prevent concussions. But...no vendor seems interested in it and now I see that "not invented here" really means something to Riddell. Maybe the competition will go after licensing the patent from him. Here is a link to the patent: http://www.google.sc/patents/US8443468